Thursday, October 9, 2014

self-help ... the antidote

Waiting in a medical lab office yesterday, I was, of course, reduced to reading magazines that were six months or a year old. Like anyone else, I suppose, I wasn't really offended by the lack of timeliness: What I was reading was just better than the flat-screen TV whose muted conversations passed for timely commentary ... war, sickness, famine, skate-boarding, education and all of it presented by women with long hair and comely thighs and impossibly straight teeth.

One of the articles I skimmed made what I thought was a pretty good point: Self-help books and articles and invocations all had one thing in common: By the time you finished with one of them, there was always another one waiting. Self-help might promise improvements, but there was never really enough time to enjoy the improvement because the improvement could always be improved. Self-help might point the way, but self-help was like chicken pox -- there was always a new place to itch.

Look at any religion or war or good deed or diet ... there was always something else to achieve and the self-help market -- from political endeavor to ending poverty -- was endless-endless-ENDLESS.

This observation did not suggest to me that improvements should not be attempted. Chucking the whole thing was a little too cynical and, in the end, unsatisfying, but what also occurred to me was this:

The matter of improvement was sometimes inspiring: It asked the question, "What if things were better?" and then formulated a plan of attack... endlessly. Sometimes the plan worked. Sometimes not. Usually, it turned out to be a mix -- some success and some failure.

But what occurred to me based on that aging magazine article was this: Asking what things might be like if they were "improved" would never elicit a satisfying answer until the matter of what things might be like if they were not "improved" was honestly and openly addressed. Heart-felt critiques are really not enough. If you never did a damned self-helpy thing, a single improving thing, a single altruistic act, would that be an excuse for not being happy?

It's not a matter of either/or. Lazy and energetic are not enemies. It's just a matter of honestly assessing the furrow anyone might choose to plow. Expectations are OK, right up to the moment when they disperse like woodsmoke ... and, well, the fire is still toasty, isn't it?


  1. It speaks to the impossibility of the bodhisattva vow. There will always be more to do, no matter how tired you feel. It's your responsibility to rest, rest until ready, no matter now long. Others will take up the slack, or things will be left undone, Oh well. If your responsibility lies with you, all that other shit just ain't your problem.

    1. Known a girl locally in Singapore that just came back from the States, she was topping her cohort at Buffalo iirc. Literally, her first name was that of a yesteryear Christian girl who tried evangelising me, her last name was that of the Christian husband whom that Christian girl eventually married. Brings up a very simple riddle why I was comfortable with Black Moon's offerings at first glance, because I knew nothing about Adam, nothing about Fisher, nothing about Genkaku, nothing about olcharlie or the occasional Mustafas and Muhammads that appear at this blog.

      Whenever I thought about visiting Mass, I recall approximately how I got my only younger sister married and hunnymooning in the US last year, she came back because of some strikes that called off all the places of interests.

      So, on the girls who visited the US and back, they do hold lofty ideals. The Buffalo girl was blogging about how she founding a Social Enterprise, I kept sitting and sitting and I was wondering WHAT ON EARTH EXACTLY IS a social enterprise? A social enterprise sounds like a sangha as far as I am concerned.

      Facebook is a social network. Blogspot is a social weblog. The E-sangha yesterday was a social forum. Etc, etc, etc. It is the 'socialism' that is reappearing in people's minds every other day that gets me very perplexed. Will all bodhisattvas be equal, but some bodhisattvas be more equal than others? Makes sense in a way, if I consider Avalokitesvara being more equal than the many the Shakyamuni's Ministry mentioned. I just got my dad redid my room and I made a mini apartmental zendo out of it with the preexisting Guan Yin figurine, prolly the room's the same size as Genkaku's. If only I could do without the conventional bed, gosh..

      So much for self-help, I guess. :)

      I'm still stuck at what is a social enterprise, it sounded again like a 501c tax-exempted non-profit, I do know of the American dude Robert Thurman who came back from being a monk at Tibet and made a Tibet House of sorts under a 501c charity status, I don't recall him calling it a social enterprise. A buddhist center is just a buddhist center, just as a zendo or an abbey is just a zendo or an abbey.

      There's hardly anything valuable supposedly in a zendo or an abbey. If a social enterprise is where we have sex, why not just call it a startup business? When the good men came back from WWII they too.. some started farms, some started factories, some started movie production houses, some started eateries, well there we had it, a society with its enterprise spirit, especially after an extended period of military and national hardship.

      What is a social enterprise?

      If I were to just develop a simple software iirc a British did that recently calling his Operating System "Bodhi Linux", then he puts it up available as a download then soliciting donations that range from $0.01 till hundreds or more. That made sense athough it was controversial at times.

      If a social enterprise is an orphanage or a nursing home, isn't a monastery or a church also a social enterprise? Call it a fellowship, call it a sangha again.

      So these people got their moolahs in the churches, another group got their gurus in the centers, so where do all the baby making take place then?

      Now now, even a motel or a hotel is also a social enterprise then.

      Haven't we got enough motels in New York and hotels in Singapore?

      So, the world needs a newer and better place to quarrel and make babies. Ok..... It's a bit queer though when I think about it.